Just call them ‘Silver Techies’. Medicare eligible seniors are now embracing technology and loving it.
Six in ten Medicare eligible seniors are embracing technology more during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new healthinsurance.com survey.
Seniors are now using technology for their healthcare needs. A Health Insurance survey reveals an incredible 340% increase in telemedicine usage among Medicare recipients since the start of COVID-19. One-third report ordering their prescriptions from an online pharmacy.
And it’s not just telemedicine and the internet; nearly one-third say they monitor their health using a wearable. In fact, 4 in 10 are interested in a wearable that helps them and those around them maintain appropriate social distance.
The survey also explores seniors’ internet usage, healthcare cost concerns, Medicare enrollment, grandma and grandpa’s binge-watching habits, and more.
The current pandemic is affecting seniors’ daily habits and family life; 38% haven’t seen their kids or grandkids in person since mid-March. More than half have put off a dentist appointment because of COVID-19. Six in ten have only left the house to go food shopping or to the pharmacy during COVID-19. On the flip side, 27% say they have left their house whenever they wanted during the pandemic.
35% are worried about contracting COVID-19 because they may be hit with a surprise bill. Nearly 4 in 10 think those who have a Medicare Advantage plan and who contract COVID-19 are getting better care. 12% used the special enrollment period to enroll in Medicare during COVID-19.
Telemedicine is trending
Telemedicine is trending among those on Medicare. Prior to COVID-19, only 1 in 10 used telemedicine. During COVID-19, 44% have used it, and 43% say they intend on using it after. Of those who used telemedicine, 58% say they have used it just once, and 30% report using it once a month.
Two-thirds of those who haven’t tried telemedicine said the reason is simply because they haven’t needed the service.
Grandparents are binge watching
Binge-watching doesn’t have an age limit; 75% of respondents say they have a smart TV or use a streaming device, with 47% admitting to binge-watching.
But Grandma and Grandpa aren’t totally sold on cutting the cord. In fact, 66% of seniors still have Cable TV.
Liking social media
A majority of senior citizens are hitting the like button; 73% are on social media, with 83% saying they use Facebook the most. 52% say they use social media to stay in touch with family and friends, and 21% say they use it to get news.
Making use of video chatting
Seniors are using technology to stay in touch with both family and friends during COVID-19. More than half video chat with their kids and grandkids at least once a month, with 50% saying they video chat more since the start of COVID-19. And it’s not just with family, 32% say they video chat with their friends.
Satisfied with smartphones
Nine in ten seniors say they have a smartphone and like to use it. 71% say their preferred method of communication is either texting or talking on their cell phone. And it’s not just smartphones; two-thirds say they also have some type of tablet. 11% have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to start using a smartphone.
Regarding the upcoming election, nine in ten say lowering drug prices is important to them. 68% say the economy and healthcare are the two most important issues to them in the 2020 election.
How seniors are going to vote is split; 58% say they will vote via a mail in ballot, and 42% say they will vote in person in November.
When asked about the outlook of the United States, 84% say they haven’t seen the country more divided in their lifetime than it is now.
Medicare enrollment habits
Nearly 8 in 10 research their Medicare options online, but not all beneficiaries enroll online; 44% sign up using the internet, and the remaining 56% sign up either in person or on the phone.
When looking for a plan, 4 in 10 look for a Medicare plan that accepts their doctor. For 26%, a Medicare plan with low monthly premiums and copays is most important, while 22% are looking for a plan that has extra benefits like dental, vision, hearing or fitness programs.
More than two-thirds with a Medicare Advantage plan are happy with it. Two in ten intend to use the annual enrollment period beginning in October to adjust their current plan. 26% say they intend to switch from an Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, and 22% plan to change their prescription drug plan. When asked if the age to be eligible for Medicare should be lowered to 60, 51% said yes.
Healthcare cost worries
Two-thirds are worried about out-of-pocket medical costs. Six in ten are worried about an unexpected medical bill, so much so that 36% have put off seeing a doctor because of cost. 89% think prescription drug prices are too high. One-third spend more than $50 a month on prescription drugs.
As far as future costs are concerned, 50% of respondents say they have money set aside for their family to use for their health needs.
View the full survey results here.